No Definitive Evidence of Paleocene Dinosaurs in the San Juan Basin

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Andrew B. Heckert Ph.D., Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: In a recent article in this journal, Fassett (2009) concludes that dinosaur fossils of Paleocene age are present in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico-Colorado. However, we argue that, based on existing data, Fassett has failed to produce compelling evidence to support this conclusion. In the San Juan Basin, only one arguably reworked dinosaur bone (an isolated hadrosaur femur) is stratigraphically above undisputed Paleocene pollen, so palynology does not demonstrate Paleocene dinosaurs in the San Juan Basin. Nor does magnetostratigraphy, because Fassett’s disregard of a major unconformity above the dinosaur-bearing Naashoibito Member renders questionable his use of an uninterrupted magnetostratigraphy to assign a Paleocene age to dinosaur fossils in that unit. Moreover, Fassett’s article failed to adequately dismiss the broadly held conclusions that: (1) the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary is within the Ojo Alamo Sandstone; (2) the dinosaur-dominated vertebrate fossil assemblage of the lower Ojo Alamo Sandstone (Alamo Wash local fauna of the Naashoibito Member) is of Maastrichtian age; and (3) the isolated, water-worn and/or fragmentary dinosaur bones from the overlying Kimbeto Member are reworked from underlying Cretaceous strata.

Additional Information

Lucas, S.G., Sullivan, R.M., Cather, S.M., Jasinski, S.E., Fowler, D.W., Heckert, A.B., Spielmann, J.A., and Hunt, A.P., (2009). No definitive evidence of Paleocene dinosaurs in the San Juan Basin. Palaeontologia Electronica, 12, p. 10 (ISSN: 1094-8074). Published by Coquina Press and available from the publisher open access at:
Language: English
Date: 2009

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